Robeco bonuses don’t add up

A massive bonus for key Robeco staff who stay on the job? Tell that to all the redundant bank workers, writes Robin Pascoe.

So the Dutch central bank agreed with Rabobank about the need to pay 53 Robeco senior execs a nice fat bonus for staying on the job during the long-winded takeover talks with Japan’s Orix.

Even though the bonuses conflict with the central bank’s policy on remuneration, officials still gave the go-ahead – covering up for their apparent cowardice by saying it is a ‘one-off’ arrangement and ‘without prejudice’.

Rabobank was apparently very concerned important members of staff would quit in the middle of the takeover process – which could have threatened the very deal itself. Quite what evidence there is of this remains to be seen.


Nevertheless, the central bank fell for that old international comparison argument yet again, telling the Financieele Dagblad this week ‘such bonuses are usual in international terms because buyers fear key players may walk’.

According to the press, finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem is not at all happy about it, calling the agreement dubious, not sensible and ‘against the spirit of the times’.

Questions have been asked in parliament – not that MPs or the minister have any say in what a cooperative bank like Rabo gets up to.

But it would show some guts if Dijsselbloem would issue a public statement condemning the move in plain terms. Not that it is very likely. Dijsselbloem needs to keep friendly with the central bank in light of the impending austerity package.

Job losses

But it is also worth noting that over the past few weeks there has been a slew of stories about massive job losses in the financial sector.

The NRC said last month that 31% of banking jobs have gone since the economic crisis started in 2009. Dutch banks now employ 90,000 people, compared with 130,000 before they started mucking about with risky American mortgages and incomprehensible financial products.

So is it really likely all these essential Robeco folk would have jumped ship because of a takeover? After all, it is not as if there are loads of top level financial service jobs out there at the moment waiting to be grabbed.


Those in secure, well-paid positions are more likely to be clinging on to them for dear life than running away from Robeco’s new Japanese owners.

And lest you think these giant payouts to people who simply stay in their jobs are only for the top dogs, Robeco has thought of the others as well.

A spokesman told the FD that ‘ordinary’ workers have also been given an extra month’s salary and an e-reader as their reward. So that’s all right then.

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